He plays with a glove embroidered with her name.
Because every catch Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez makes, every hit and home run, is for his sister, Noely, who was 21 when she died in April from complications related to spina bifida.
"Her dream was for Javy to make it to the pros," says their older brother, Gadiel, 24. "Javy's dream was to make it to the pros and give her everything she ever needed."
From the time they were children, Noely watched her big brother Javier play baseball. No matter if he got a hit or struck out, she always cheered wildly.
Now, at Wrigley Field, the spot where Noely once parked her wheelchair is empty. But Javier Baez says he still feels his sister's presence.
"Even though she's not with us right now," he says. "I'm sure that she's watching."
The 6-foot-tall, baby-faced Baez is a supremely gifted athlete who can seemingly do it all, hitting, running and fielding with agility and power. In the postseason and beyond, the Cubs are depending on him to be a big part of their future.
Drafted out of high school, he made his major league debut in 2014, but struggled with strikeouts and was returned to the minors. Now, the Cubs have again called him up to the big time and the 22-year-old Baez is seeking to prove his worth. He says he wants to help the Cubs win, not only for himself and his team, but also for his sister.
"I know she wanted me to keep going," he says. "I want to show her that I won't give up."
Born to a working-class family in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Javier and Noely, in most ways, couldn't have seemed more different.
Javier, the third of four kids, was a confident and outgoing child, who would grow into a preternaturally gifted athlete. When he was trying out for a local peewee baseball team in the mid-1990s, a coach stepped forward to show him how to hit.
According to family lore, Javier — then just a 4-year-old — waved the coach away. I don't need help, the preschooler told the coach.
Noely, the family's youngest, wasn't expected to live for more than a few hours after her birth. "The doctors said she wasn't going to make it for 24 hours. Two days later, they said she's not going to make it for a week," recalled Gadiel.
But the baby survived and grew into a determined girl. "She was a warrior," recalled Gadiel. She refused to allow anyone to push her wheelchair and said she could get around by herself.
All through her childhood, she wanted to experience everything her brothers did. She didn't play baseball, but she became a fixture on the sidelines at their games.
"At first, I didn't think she was going to get the game, because the rules are really hard. But she did. She was really smart," Javier Baez said. "It was kind of crazy and amazing how she understood and how much she enjoyed the game. Every time I was playing, she would go crazy. That made me keep playing more and more."
Of her three brothers, she was closest to Javier, who was older by just 11 months.
When he was 7 years old, their mother overheard him telling Noely: If God would let me, I would switch legs with you, so you could walk.
In 2004, their father, Angel, a lawn worker, died after falling in the bathroom and hitting his head. Their mom, Nelly, kept the family afloat by selling cakes from their home and eventually decided to move the kids to Jacksonville, Fla., in search of better medical care for Noely.
Javier had long dreamed of making it to the pros. His grandfather had been a pitcher in the Puerto Rican leagues. And in Florida, the then-teenager soared as a player, and eventually caught the eye of major league scouts.
The moment that would change everything came on June 6, 2011, the first day of the Major League Baseball draft.
Dozens of friends and family packed into the Baez home to watch the results on TV. When the Cubs announced in the first round that they had selected Baez as the No. 9 pick, the crowd erupted with raucous cheers that seemed to shake the house. The deal would come with a $2.6 million signing bonus.
Baez, then an 18-year-old high school senior, turned to his sister and said: You will never have to worry again.
Over the next few years, he kept his promise. He bought a new house for his mother and Noely and gave them a minivan, customized with a wheelchair ramp. The family traveled around the country to watch him play minor league ball.
In August 2014, he made his major league debut against the Colorado Rockies in Denver. In the 12th inning, he hit a game-winning home run and, as he rounded the bases, he pointed to Noely and his family in the stands.
Two days later, in the third game of his major league career, he hit two more home runs.
It was a jaw-dropping performance.
But it didn't last.
Baez struggled with strikeouts through the rest of the 2014 season, often swinging at bad pitches. In the spring of 2015, Cubs management shipped him back to Iowa.
As Baez's poise at the plate seemed to falter, so too did Noely's health. A respiratory infection and problems with her kidneys landed her in the hospital for several weeks. She recovered and the family thought she was all right.
But in April, as Baez was about to start the season with the Iowa Cubs, he received a phone call from Gadiel.
Noely had been hospitalized again.
"I said, 'We got to go home,' " recalled Gadiel. "And he started crying."
Baez rushed to the airport to catch a flight to Florida. By the time he arrived at the hospital in Jacksonville, Noely was gone.
For a time, Baez wondered how he would go on.
"I told my mom before (Noely's death), that if she goes away, I didn't want to play baseball. I didn't want to do anything," he recalled.
But he knew that Noely wouldn't want that.
"For me and my family, we never saw Noely as a handicapped person. We always treated her like she could do anything," he recalled.
For more than two decades, she defied the odds.
"She taught me and my family not to ever give up," he said.
In the following months, Baez had his determination tested.
He took two weeks of bereavement leave, returned to Iowa and promptly slid face-first into second base, breaking his left ring finger. That injury led to nearly seven weeks of rehab and more time away from baseball.
Coaches stressed the need to cut down on his strikeouts and make contact with the ball more consistently. Baez spent his rehab practicing his swing with one hand.
When he rejoined the Iowa Cubs in July, he said, "I came back stronger and with the swing that I wanted."
His effort impressed Triple-A Iowa manager Marty Pevey. "From the day he got back from his broken hand, his batting practice (sessions) were incredible," Pevey said. "I can remember we were in Salt Lake (City), throwing to Javy. ... In his round of batting practice, he hit seven home runs in a row to right center. And they were all line drives."
On Sept. 1, the Cubs called Baez back to the big leagues to help in the run toward the playoffs.
Gadiel flew to Chicago and brought with him a mitt that had belonged to Noely. She had carried it to every game and tucked it beside her in her wheelchair.
"I said, 'You are going to play in the pros again,' " recalled Gadiel. " 'Why not use it?' "
Baez continues to find comfort in the memories of his sister's life and accomplishments. She graduated high school, when many never thought she would. She rode a roller coaster too, much to the dismay of their mother. She even rode a jet ski a few summers ago, after insisting her brothers take her on a ride through the surf.
And, of course, Noely saw her big brother make the major leagues.
Though his playing time in September was sporadic, Baez proved his willingness to work hard and make improvements to his game, all of which bodes well for his future with the Cubs. A few nights ago, after a game at Wrigley, Baez and a group of friends left the field after midnight on bicycles. When they reached the lake, they stopped to take in the view.
Standing in the darkness, Baez spotted a shooting star.
"It was long and green and bright," he said. "As soon as I saw it, my sister came to my mind. It was like she was just letting us know that she is watching us."